Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hasselbeck versus O'Donnell; Buckley versus Vidal

Jonah Goldberg of NRO finds ABC News's claim that Rosie O'Donnell's and Elizabeth Hasselbeck's debate on Barbara Walters' "The View" "harkens back to a Vietnam-era exchange between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William Buckley."

Larwyn has provided the following link to the New Editor which has clips of both the Vidal/Buckley debate (which I recall took place in the summer of 1967 when I was a camper at Camp Woodcliff in Sawkill, NY) and the O'Donnell/Hasselback debate.

There are two similarities. Both debates are based on mistaken assessments and characterizations about, respectively, the Vietnam and Iraqi Wars. For example, Vidal claims that North and South Vietnam were one country, a mistaken claim that Mark Moyar debunks in Triumph Forsaken. Second, you had some people like Buckley and Hasselbeck both favoring the respective wars and Vidal and O'Donnell both opposing them.

However, there are two big differences. First, neither Buckley nor Vidal are as good looking as Hasselbeck but both are better looking than O'Donnell. Second, Buckley and Vidal are extremely articulate and are the products of education and refinement. In contrast, Hasselbeck and O'Donnell lack these characteristics.

Part of the problem with today's public discourse is that the educational system has failed to prepare Americans to express themselves coherently. The mass media, especially television, have contributed to this inability. College courses no longer require good writing. Opinions count more than learning. Self-esteem and self-indulgence take priority over self-discipline and education.

The difference between the Hasselbeck/O'Donnell and Buckley/Vidal debates is that in the 1960s the public required its television commentators to be well educated. Today, the public commentators are circus clowns.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Will TIAA-CREF Participants Put Their Money Where Their Rhetoric Is?

Charles Fishman quotes quite a few academics in his book The Wal-Mart Effect. Fishman argues that Wal-Mart should take various actions that would reduce its profit margins but improve its corporate social responsibility. Such actions might even potentially increase stock prices if the public responds positively to Wal-Mart's better public image. The academics whom Fishman quotes universally believe that Wal-Mart stockholders should live with lower returns in exchange for Wal-Mart's enhanced social responsiblity.

I have previously suggested that academics put their money where there mouths are:

"Why doesn't TIAA-CREF, the college retirement fund, take over Wal-Mart? It probably has the capitalization. Then Wal-Mart can be improved socially,and if the professors' stocks drop 30 percent, they will be glad because they saved the third world, right? I haven't heard any screams from MIT, the University of Missouri or other universities for such a strategy."

In order to pursue this proposal, I have just sent the following e-mail to the governing board of TIAA-CREF:

Dear CREF/TIAA Board:

As a TIAA/CREF participant I would like to put a resolution before the board that CREF should devote a 25 percent portion of its diversified stock portfolio to acquire shares in Wal-Mart in order that university and related professions may influence corporate policy and social responsiblity at Wal-Mart. Asking CREF participants to invest in Wal-Mart to improve the lot of 1.8 million Wal-Mart employees is a small sacrifice.

Would you please let me know how to make this proposal before your plenary meeting? Thank you,

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Corporate versus Private Welfare: The Case of Inflation

Is it better to advocate welfare for corporations via loose Fed policy and inflationary interest rates, or is it better to advocate welfare for individuals who are otherwise in poverty? The concept of the marginal utility of money suggests that it makes more sense to advocate welfare for the poor than welfare for the rich. The poor value an incremental dollar more than the rich do, therefore society's welfare is increased to a greater degree by assisting the poor than by assisting the rich.

Given just these two points of view, (1) that government ought to act to support the wealthy, or (2) that government ought to act to support the poor, the latter view is preferable. As I have previously blogged, Fed policy tends to support the wealthy. This has been true historically, and it especially has been true today. As the Carlyle Group's chief investment officer William E. Conway has pointed out in a private internal memo:

>"As you all know (I hope), the fabulous profits that we have been able to generate for our limited partners are not solely a function of our investment genius, but have resulted in large part from a great market and the availability of enormous amounts of cheap debt. This cheap debt has been available for almost all maturities, most industries, infrastructure, real estate, and at all levels of the capital structure. Frankly, there is so much liquidity in the world financial system, that lenders (even “our” lenders) are making very risky credit decisions. This debt has enabled us to do transactions that were previously unimaginable (e.g., Hertz, Kinder Morgan, Nielsen, Freescale), and has resulted in (generally) higher exit multiples than entry multiples."

Mr. Conway is not alone in benefiting from cheap debt, which is due to Fed policy and amounts to a form of welfare. Rather, almost the entire board of directors of the American Enterprise Institute benefits from cheap debt. The AEI's board is entirely composed of executives of major corporations who benefit from cheap debt because they enjoy increased compensation from inflated stock values.

Doug French of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has an excellent blog today about Tulipmania in Holland in the 1630s. Much like today's stock market, hedge fund and real estate bubbles, applauded by AEI and Weekly Standard's Irwin Stelzer, French traces the history of the monetary inflation in Holland due to discoveries of silver and gold in the New World and Holland's policy of free coinage of money, which drew bullion from Japan, the New World and elsewhere in Europe. He shows that monetary inflation caused Tulipmania, one of the earliest speculative bubbles.

French points out that:

"Total balances more than doubled from less than four million florins in 1634 to just over eight million in 1640. More specifically from January 31st 1636 to January 31st 1637 — the height of the tulipmania — Bank of Amsterdam's deposits increased 42 coinage, the Bank of Amsterdam, and the heightened trade and commerce in Holland served to attract coin and bullion from throughout the world...In 1648, when the Peace of Westphalia acknowledged the independence of the Dutch republic, the latter stopped the "free" coinage of silver florins and only permitted it for gold ducats, which in Holland had no legal value. This legislation discouraged the imports of silver bullion, checked the rise of prices, and put an end to the tulip mania."

Unlike the Bank of Amsterdam, it is unlikely that the Fed will signficantly reduce its counterfeiting any time soon. The AEI need need not fear.

I opened with the wrong question: "Which is preferable, welfare for the rich, i.e., cheap debt, or welfare for the poor?" I would suggest neither. It is difficult to arrive at a political position in today's world, which is driven by two species of ideologues: Republicans who favor monetary expansion, low marginal taxes, crony capitalism and welfare for the rich; and Democrats who favor monetary expansion, crony capitalism higher marginal taxes, and welfare for the very, very rich in the name of the poor. I suppose the Republicans are somewhat better and somewhat more honest, but only barely so.

Adam Clayton Powell IV, Harlem's Hero in the NY Assembly

Jacob Gershman, in today's New York Sun, notes that while some New York Assembly members such as Joseph Lentol have sponsored over 100 legislative bills and others, such as Richard Brodsky, have sponsored over 200 in this session alone, Adam Clayton Powell, IV, has sponsored no, zero, bills in the past three years.

Mr. Powell's performance contrasts sharply with that of his grandfather, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (I assume grandfather not only because of the name but also because the photo attached to the article suggests that the acorn didn't fall far from the grandfatherly tree--I've never seen a grandson look more like a grandfather). Wikidpedia notes that Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the first black Congressman from New York, was head of the powerful Education and Labor Committee and a supporter of JFK's "New Freedom" and LBJ's "Great Society" legislation. Wikipedia also notes:

"Powell Jr.'s committee passed a record number of bills for a single session. That record still remains unbroken. As one of the great modern legislators, Powell Jr. would steer some 50 bills through Congress."

In contrast to his grandfather's performance in Congress in passing the most bills, Powell, IV has apparently set a kind of record for the New York State Assembly in proposing the fewest bills.

Between Powell, Jr. and and Powell, IV I think I'd prefer Powell, IV. attributes the quote "No man's life, liberty and property are safe while the legislature is in session" to New York Surrogate Judge Gideon J. Tucker in an 1866 decision. Others, such as Phil Maymin of , John Jerrett of Memorial University of Newfoundland,George Mason's Walter E. Williams, and Jefferson Review attribute the quote to Mark Twain. In any case, perhaps we owe a vote of thanks to Adam Clayton Powell, IV for reminding us that the government is best that governs least. Was it Socrates who said that?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Immigration Paradox

Libertarians believe in unfettered liberty, which means that borders should not be restricted. But immigration has anti-libertarian consequences, such as increases in social security costs and lawlessness.

The first reason is that unfettered immigration lets in large numbers of potential terrorists. If tight immigration laws are enforced, there will be fewer terrorists admitted. In reducing New York City's crime rate to one of the lowest in the country Rudy Giuliani proved that if you police small offenses, larger ones become rarer. If you carefully vet immigrants, and take action against those who come here illegally, terrorists are less likely to slip through the cracks. Heather MacDonald has constructively argued that giving amnesty to illegal immigrants encourages disrespect for the law.

According to Hugh Hewitt:

"federal counterterrorism authorities say they have connected some border jumpers to terrorism. Among them was a South African woman of Middle Eastern descent whose July 2004 arrest at the McAllen airport with wet clothes, thousands in cash and a mutilated passport made international headlines."

Hewitt adds with respect to the immigration bill that:

Many terrorists and terrorist sympathizers have certainly entered the country illegally across our borders-- is an issue ignored by the bill's proponents, and when confronted with it, they attempt to argue that it would be better to get their fingerprints and legalize their work and travel around the country --and back and forth from abroad to the U.S.-- than to keep them in the position of a lawbreaker.

Lawlessness and terrorism would likely be reduced by a coherent law systematically enforced.

The second reason to be concerned about immigration is that it is likely to depress wages of those with lower incomes. Economists used to be skeptical of this kind of effect, but studies by George Borjas and others confirm that this has occurred. Markets are flexible. When immigrants came here in the 1930s and found the Great Depression, many returned to their homelands. But welfare benefits impede market flexibility. Special interest group pressure on political leaders encourages them to extend public benefits to immigrants who cannot find work. This inhibits the functioning of markets, enhancing downward pressure on low-income wages.

The problems surrounding immigration are compounded by the decline of the American educational system. In previous generations, the public schools contributed to the homogenization of the public. In several 19th century cases, German immigrants were told that they had to teach children English in school. Today, the melting pot is nearly extinguished. The politically correct multiculturalists argue that students' ethnic backgrounds should be reinforced at the expense of education about American history and culture. The result is the lack of a shared community. This will result in alienation of recent immigrant groups. Liberals ensure that immigrants will remain impoverished through incompetent, left-wing educational theories. Special interest activists who earn their keep on the sores of the poor reinforce these impulses. The result is a multiplication of sub-cultures uninterested in taking part in American culture or able to take advantage of economic opportunities here.

Gold Bug Howard S. Katz argues that America's libertarian history is one of acceptance of immigration. The libertarian heritage has been sabotaged for many decades. The institution of the Federal Reserve Bank, favorite of left-wing Republican inflationists like Irwin Stelzer at Weekly Standard, was an important step toward state control, as were the imposition of social security benefits, unemployment insurance and Medicaid. These plans increase in costs with immigration.

I would therefore argue that there is a paradox: limitations on immigration reduce government spending, increase respect for the law, reduce the threat of terrorism, hence increase freedom. In this case, a little bit more government results in much more freedom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Review of Gary Tobin, Aryeh K. Weinberg and Jenna Ferer's, "The Uncivil University"

Gary A. Tobin, Aryeh K. Weinberg and Jenna Ferer
The Uncivil University
Institute for Jewish and Community Research, 2005
296 pages

Gary A. Tobin, Aryeh K. Weinberg and Jenna Ferer have written a useful and insightful book on anti-Semitism in universities. The book is actually more than that. It starts by discussing standards of academic competence and ethics. These standards have been increasingly neglected in recent years. Universities have become overly obsessed with money, with narrow fields of specialization and with protecting their prerogatives from external review, even as they require ever greater amounts of financial support from external sources.

Following their discussion of the decline of universities, the authors discuss fiduciary and ethical duties of academics and academic administrators. They follow this with a discussion of a history of anti-Semitism in academia, in America more broadly, and in the Arab world. The authors do a good job of discussing the blurring of the distinctions among anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and criticism of Israel, three areas which overlap. They include an interesting quote by Tamir Sorek of the Cornell Daily Sun in this regard. As the authors point out,

"There are only fourteen million Jews in the world out of a population of more than five billion. If one listens to the rhetoric of the anti-Semites and the anti-Israelists (and now the anti-American voices as well), one can only assume that there are hundreds of millions of Jews in the world controlling government, controlling the banks, controlling the media, and who are poised to profit from everybody else's distress."

Sadly, as the authors point out, p. 72, "the university and the left now seem interchangeable" with Jim Piereson labeling "higher education 'the left university'". Universities have become fonts of anti-Semitic propaganda and (p. 105) "the university has failed, permitting a converging rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college campuses that marginalizes Jewish students." Politicized research marginalizes honest research.

For instance, Yale Assistant Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh circulated a list of Jewish students whom he labeled a "pro-war cabal". As well, Jewish students at the University of California, Berkeley have been spit on and called "Zionist conservative bastards" and "f**king Jews" when campaigning for student office." These are not isolated occurrences, but rather are widespread. Jews are routinely harassed and called vicious names at college campuses around the country. For instance, in 1993 Khalid Abdul Muhammad, speaking at Kean College, called Jews "bloodsuckers". The authors assert that:

"Professor Norton Mezvinsky, of Central Connecticut State University, has been quoted stating that Jews believe 'the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value' and that this allows Jews to consider that the killing of non-Jews does 'not constitute murder according to the Jewish religion'."

Professor Emeritus Helen Cullen of the University of Massachusetts, known as "the Harvard of Marxism", wrote a letter that was published in U. Mass.'s student daily, Collegian, saying that:

"Judaism and the Jewish identity are offensive to most human beings and will always cause trouble between the Jews and the rest of the human race."

The University of Illinois student newspaper published a letter from Ariel Sinovsky stating that "the President should act immediately...First, separate Jews from all government advisory positions and give them one year full paid sabbatical...Then the Jews might face another Holocaust."

In 2002 Santa Rosa Junior College's student newspaper The Oak Leaf published an article by Kevin McGuire stating that "Israel is the largest and most dangerous terrorist organization in the world..."

A key example is the low-quality field of Middle Eastern Studies. Bernard Lewis is quoted as saying that the field is of low quality. Students complain of marginalization, ideological harassment and intimidation. The Middle Eastern Studies field is junk and does not deserve to be part of the university. Columbia Professors such as Samir Awad, Gil Anidjar, Janaki Bakhle, Marc Nichanian, Hamid Dbashi, Joseph Massad, Frances Protchett, George Saliba, Nader Sohrabi and Marc van de Mieroop, all of Colubmia's Middle Eastern Studies program, dominated the list of signatories on a petition for divestment from Israel. The scholarship of Middle Eastern Studies departments has been of such low quality that it is a standing joke in academia.

To remedy these problems, the authors suggest enhanced external control. In 2005, Congress passed House Resolution 3077, subsequently folded into House Resoultion 609, that establishes an independent higher education advisory board to provide advice, counsel and recommendations on international education issues.

Uncivil University is a very well written and readable book. It is well researched and balanced. The authors have treated an important subject with care. The book deserves a wide readership.

Enhance Fiduciary Liability of University Trustees

Jose Cabranes is a former trustee and general counsel of Yale. Candace de Russy mentioned that he came up with the following suggestion, which seems to be a good one:

>"Perhaps it is time for law-making bodies to reconsider the historic restrictions on the standing of a university’s co-owners to bring legal actions enforcing the duties of university fiduciaries. [As Cabranes explains,] [i]n most states, by law or custom, only the state attorney general may bring an action against directors of a charitable organization [to include university trustees] for breach of fiduciary duties."

Bravo. There are numerous realistic and legitimate duties that the public ought to expect university trustees to fulfill, and morally these duties to parents, students and the public are fiduciary in nature. Private parties ought to have the right to enforce these duties under the law because Attornies General are likely too busy and often too corrupt to enforce them. That they are not enforceable suggests that there has been corruption in fact vis-a-vis charitable institutions and universities.

It is time to discard out-of-date restrictions on law suits against trustees that allow academic administrators and faculties to hide behind a charitable institutional veil that permits them to waste, mismanage and even steal.

The Hard Sciences Are Politically Correct Too!

Beware optimisim about any corner of higher education. Professor Frank Tipler, a mathematical physicist at Tulane University, just sent me the following e-mail about political correctness in physics. Many of us in the social sciences think of the hard sciences as the last bastion of academic standards, but sadly this appears to be over-optimism. The text of Professor Tipler's e-mail follows.

Dear Mitchell,
>> Why do you except the hard sciences from your critique? During the
>> thirty years I've been a professor of Mathematical Physics, the
>> physics departments at the "leading" American universities have
>> become hostile to the fundamental laws of physics, specifically
>> quantum mechanics, relativity, and the second law of thermodynamics.
>> It is my impression that most technological advance during the past
>> two decades has come, not from university science and engineering
>> departments, but from private individuals, and researchers at
>> industrial labs. For example, the revolutionary idea of the quantum
>> computer was first advanced by David Deutsch, who, although he has
>> the title of Professor of Physics at Oxford University, actually
>> receives no salary from the university. He earns his living by free
>> lance writing, and the occasional prize for his work (like last
>> year's $100,000 Edge Foundation Prize). Deutsch, a supporter of the
>> Conservative Party, is too unorthodox to hold a regular university
>> position. Michael Shor, who invented the Shor Algorithm that,
>> running on a quantum computer, could break any of the Internet
>> Security codes, was and is employed by what in my childhood was
>> called Bell Labs.
>> A few years ago, Science magazine ran an article showing that most
>> science articles paid for by NSF were never even cited by anyone
>> except the author. Completely worthless work, in other words.
>> Most university mathematics departments teach a theory of probability
>> and statistics that was created in the early 20th century by
>> psychologists and sociologists instead of a more sophisticated theory
>> created around 1800 by the great physicists Simon de Laplace and Karl
>> F. Gauss. Using the physicists' probability theory, it is possible
>> to show that the social scientists' probability theory is designed to
>> tend to confirm whatever the experimenter wishes to be true. To the
>> best of my knowledge, the physicists' theory of probability is taught
>> only at four universities: Cambridge, Stanford, Washington St. Louis,
>> and North Carolina State University. See Edward Jaynes' Probability
>> Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2002) for a history of this
>> nonsense, together with a description of the correct theory of
>> probability.
>> Unfortunately, the incorrect theory of probability is required by the
>> FDA in tests of drugs. Fortunately, DNA typing uses the correct
>> theory of probability.
>> Best,
>> Frank J. Tipler
>> Professor of Mathematical Phyiscs
>> Tulane University

Higher Education as an Example of Special Interest Rent Extraction

David Horowitz's The Professors depicts academics who are successful without having made any important breakthroughs in science, are not necessarily talented scholars (some are, but most in his book aren't)* and who have no knowledge that would enable undergraduates to think creatively or to succeed in their careers. Academia has become a pretext for extraction of rents for academics themselvs without intellectual accountability or standards. Academics admit this among themselves (not for popular consumption though, as that would threaten salary increases), as Michael Berube's review essay on "Abuse of the University" suggests. Increasingly academics act as though Veblen was right in Higher Learning in America and that universities are pointless rituals that serve as market screens for employers and in loco parenti for Gentleman C's.

The question then becomes why universities continue to receive so much governmental and public support. If the professors themselves (and left wing journalists such as Jane Jacobs in The Dark Age Ahead) begin to argue that universities pursue a vacuous "excellence" or provide pointless credentials then why should the public support such institutions? The claim that a college degree becomes an entry barrier to the professions and so serves the economic interest of the professionals is not a sufficient argument (this is the same argument as signaling theory) because an inexpensive test could serve equally well as an entry barrier.

A better explanation is in the group interest theory of Mancur Olson in The Rise and Decline of Nations and George Stigler, that special interest groups such as university administrations can pressure Washington and the state capitols to provide economic benefits. The argument would go that because professors and universities are compact interest groups with alot of free time and excess resources, they are effective lobbies. As a result, their demand for regulatory support and economic largesse is far greater than that of more deserving groups, such as the poor. Therefore, universities extract benefits that could otherwise have gone to help impoverished Americans to provide six figure salaries to left wingers with crackpot political views who advocate the destruction of the very firms who are paying their bloated salaries.

*One of my favorites is Professor Michael Vocino (p. 345) who, according to Horowitz, although in his fifties has not completed his dissertaton and is still merely a Ph.D. candidate. Professor Vocino's dissertation concerns an analysis of the cartoon show South Park and is entitled "'They've Killed Kenny!': Popular Culture, Public Ethics and the Televisual." Yet, despite the lack of a doctorate and, according to Horowitz, zero refereed publications (allegedly his only publications are a short book on ethics for public administrators and bibliographical lists) the University of Rhode Island has promoted him to full professor. This is understandable because Vocino has the requisite qualification for a career at the University of Rhode Island: he is a gay activist. According to a student named Nathaniel Nelson, Vocino entered the classroom on the first day announcing "My name is Michael Vocino and I like dick." Such is the value of a degree from the University of Rhode Island.

Academic Reform as Charade

The notion of reform assumes an institution that is worth saving. There is scant evidence that higher education is so, with the exceptions of technology, the sciences, and professions. While there is a long standing human capital argument that would favor higher education, there is no evidence that higher education optimally enhances necessary skills. There are no controlled or comparative studies of say business school graduation versus military service, or community college versus apprenticeship programs, not to mention creative alternatives that have been ignored because of the dominance of higher education systems. It is entirely possible that human capital can be more effectively enhanced through alternative institutions that have not received state support. The fact that universities depend on extraordinary degrees of government largesse and donations suggests that the economic returns due to the human capital that they produce do not justify the universities' extent. If this were not the case, state support and donations would be unnecessary, especially in today's liquid debt markets. Donations can infer not gratitude for economic returns, but the quest for social image and status, hence cannot be assumed to reflect repayment for economic benefits. If universities produced the value that they consume, students and firms would voluntarily pay to cover universities' costs to obtain the valuable knowledge that they produce.

The movement for academic reform takes as a starting point the view that intolerance of traditional approaches to education; the rejection of core curricula; and political correctness are impediments to the proper functioning of universities. Like any reform movement, it argues that improving the institution will be worthwhile because then it will perform more authentically, effectively and efficiently. In pursuing such ends, the reformers become part of the university system.

Phil Orenstein has been working on an article that argues that Nazism was a direct offshoot of the 19th century German university, and that Fichte and other German Idealists were the bedrock foundation on which not only Nazism, but also the modern university rests. In Phil's view, both the holocaust and the modern university are the heirs of the 19th century German university. Phil's idea is seminal because today's universities foster totalitarian ideologies and support intolerant extremism that, though cloaked in left wing garb, is little different from Nazism. Hence, the pattern of political correctness becomes not peripheral, or externally introduced by 1960s radicals, but rather fundamental to the culture and processes of universities themselves. Universities foster totalitarianism, and totalitarianism is inextricably linked to universities, not a peripheral malaise.

Academics who claim that they aim to reform their institutions from within thus have far-fetched, self-contradictory aims. Not only are universities culturally adverse to performing what the public expects (balanced education, for example) but their hiring and assessment policies are impossibly skewed toward favoring faculty who support totalitarian approaches and state-based solutions, and to suppression of any who disagree. The notion of reform in the real-world university context thus is a self-serving charade. Self-serving because the professor/reformer, whose conscience tells him that the institution is fraudulent or politically suppressive, can assauge his conscience while remaining secure in his knowledge that his activities will come to naught.

The spread of universities hearkens a deterioration of American democracy. This occurs in part through decades of advocacy of state-based solutions, Keyensian economics, Marxian sociology and similar university movements that advocate destructive social goals. It also occurs because of values that universities inculcate, such as identity politics, political correctness, uniformity of thinking and conformity to a professor's whims.

Society needs to begin to think of creative alternatives to universities that will sidestep the cracked views of a professoriate whose greatest contributions are left wing totalitarianism and the will to power.

Candace de Russy responds to this essay at:

Comptency-Based Education and the NCATE Banana Peel

The problem with business school is that until recently it has not done enough to teach how to succeed in business. In the 1970s and 1980s, when I attended UCLA's business school, there were two models for MBA programs. One, the "quantitative" approach, presented MBA education in accordance with the claim that business and management are scientific problems that can be solved through optimization and modern financial models. By that time, of course, David Halberstam had written "The Best and the Brightest" which in chapters 12 and 13 included a scathing critique of Robert McNamara's management science, which discarded common sense in favor of statistical modeling. Moreover, it is absurd to claim that even a modest percentage of the challenges business executives face involve problem solving. This is a common claim, but most anyone who's labored in the corporate world knows that interpersonal and political skills are far more important to success than problem solving. But business school had been doing next to nothing to develop such skills. The second approach was the case study method, which is somewhat more practical than teaching business students how to do regression analysis, but frequently covers irrelevant material and concepts and also does little to develop interpersonal skills. Two graduates of the Harvard Business School (most closely associated with the case study method), Jeff Skilling and Rebecca Marks, did well with the case study method in school but lacked elementary business competencies (see The Smartest Guys in the Room, by McLean and Elkind)

I thought about this for years in my twenties and thirties (in the 1980s) as I realized that I had learned next to nothing of practical value in business school, with the exception of a course called "Nucleus" that was taught by Professor Eric Flamholtz, who was a pioneer in the competency-based approach. Flamholtz's exercises and insights showed me that teaching business competencies was a yet-unrealized possibility. (Which isn't to say that I didn't have many other excellent academic experiences at UCLA, starting with my chief academic inspiration, Professor Dominique Hanssens in the marketing department there. But there was little that could be applied in most real world business settings as opposed to statistical modeling and hypothesis testing.)

As I thought about how to make business school more practical and of use to students, I realized that the key issues for junior executives involve developing interpersonal skills, politics and power. I suggested to other academics that this be taught, but I wasn't clear how to do so. Finally, I learned about competency-based education through a colleague at Iona, Ted Schwartz.

The idea of competency-based education is that skills are identified and targeted. Students assess themselves with respect to the skills (objective assessment not being valid or even available). Then, they read about how to improve with respect to the skill. The skill can be cognitive or acognitive. For instance, the skill could involve technical knowlege, but more importantly it can involve self-awareness, emotional intelligence, communication, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and use of power. After learning about how to improve with respect to the skill the student then applies the skill in a real-life setting (skill application) and writes about why they chose to work on the particular skill in the particular setting. David Whetten and Kim Cameron have developed this model in their textbook Developing Management Skills.

NCATE claims that education schools ought to apply "skills assessment" as part of their accreditation program. I have no problem with developing skills. My problem is the "assessment" part. A competency-based approach is effective for teaching purposes as it focuses on teaching and improving with respect to a targeted skill set, and skills that students should be learning in applied programs like business or education can be targeted. This is still done only to a limited degree in business schools, which is unfortunate.

But one thing that I never heard from any of the folks involved in the competency movement is that anyone should ever be penalized or judged for having or not having a competency or be "assessed" in a punitive way. I really don't think anyone ever suggested that and if they did they would have been wrong. The idea is much more subtle than that. Competencies interact with the work environment, so there is no one right competency in the sense that mathematics is right. Of course, there are general competencies that are beneficial across a wide spectrum of occupations. For example, good interpersonal skills, understanding how one's emotions influence one's judgment, etc. are good competencies to have, along with math, reading and writing skills. I'm all for business schools and education schools teaching things like that.

To assess such competencies is another story. It is much more difficult to assess than to describe or teach about a competency like interpersonal skills, communication, how to gain power, etc. Even if they can be tested students can fake their responses once they realize what the test is for. Also, development of tests is extremely hard to do. So there shouldn't be any assessment or testing unless you are willing to invest in a "live" assessment center approach involving structured exercises and hundreds or thousands of dollars per assessee. On the other hand, using these concepts in structuring education programs is something I support as a component of education. Students need to develop interpersonal and self awareness skills as much as writing and math skills. All of the above should be part of a professional education program.

As far as NCATE, they did not describe any methodology about training or teaching the competencies such as social justice. They did not define social justice. They just told education schools that they should assess students using social justice dispositions, which is nonsensical. NCATE slipped on an ideological banana peel. First you have to define what the dispositions mean, then develop measures, etc.

So in short I object to the "assessment" but not to the "dispositions".

More on NCATE and Teacher Dispositions

While presenting at the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity on Monday, June 5, in Arlington, Va. I mentioned that there is a well-developed body of knowledge about managerial competencies, which is the same idea as NCATE's "dispositions," and the Hay-McBer consulting firm, founded by the well-known psychologist David McClelland, has done considerable work in developing competency measures and validating them. But NCATE has not toiled in this way and so its claim to use dispositions in assessing prospective teachers is spurious. Last year, NCATE failed to respond to my repeated inquiries as to what measures they use to assess dispositions in students that they claim to evaluate using "dispositional assessment", and whether and how they have validated such measures. Since NCATE has no realistic measures and no validated measures, their claim that they use dispositions to evaluate students is nonsense. The chief reason for NCATE's making a misleading claim that I can think of is the possibility that NCATE wants to encourage harassment of some categories of students, such as conservatives who disagree with its political ideology. Hence, I presented at the meeting that the entire use of dispositions is inappropriate and in violation of judicial statutory interpretation that prohibits governmental use of ideological litmus tests. Contrast NCATE's fly-by-night claims to be using "dispositional assessment" with how it has been done in business schools.

Boyatzis* defines competencies as "an underlying characteristic of a person which results in effective and/or superior performance in a job." Each competency has two dimensions. The first identifies the various competencies. The second involves three competency levels: motives (unconscious), self image (conscious) and skills (behavioral). "Each level may vary in its impact on the disposition of the person to use the competency." Here we see the infamous word "disposition" that NCATE throws around.

Boyatzis distinguishes between motives and traits. "A motive is a recurrent concern for a goal state...A trait is a dispositional or characteristic way in which the person responds." Boyatzis argues that there are dynamic interactions among (from most unconscious) traits and motives, self-image, skills, the person, job demands and the organizational environment.

Boyatzis's book uses data from 12 organizations and 2,000 people in 41 job titles. He uses "the job comptence assessment method" which involves analyzing each job, scoring interviews of job incumbents ("behavioral event interviewing"), development and application of objective tests to measure the competencies, and correlation of the interview and objective test scores to job performance measures, i.e., validation.

In 2000 the Hay-McBer firm with which Boyatzis is associated did a study of teaching competencies in the UK. They found the following competencies:

Challenge and Support
Creating Trust
Respect for Others
Analytical Thinking
Conceptual Thinking
Drive for Improvement
Information Seeking
Holding People Accountable
Managing Pupils
Passion for Learning
Impact and Influence
Understanding Others

These competencies explain 30% of the variance of an outcomes measure. Note that Hay-McBer does not claim that it can assess teachers or prospective teachers along these dimensions. The only competency-related measures that can do so are behavioral assessment centers that involve multiple reviewers who anonymously evaluate performance on structured exercises. The reason is that written assessment measures can be gamed, and so often do not have validity in prediction of performance. The chief exceptions are integrity tests and the conscientiousness measure of the "Big-5" personality inventory (for example the NEO-AC instrument).

Note that "social justice disposition" is nowhere to be seen in any of these discussions. Also note that none of the experts who have studied competencies claim that even objective test measures can validly predict future job performance. Moreover, none of the experts who have studied competencies and dispositions has come anywhere close to asserting that a particular professor can assess competencies in a particular student, particularly when such a professor dislikes the student's politics.

That NCATE advocates or accepts such procedures is evidence of incompetence.

*Richard E. Boyatzis, The Competent Manager: A Model for Effective Performance, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982.
**self awareness, conceptualization, concern with relationships, concern with impact, developing others, diagnostic uses of concepts, efficiency orientation, logcial thought, managing group processes, memory, perceptual objectivity, positive regard, proactivity, stamina and adaptation, use or oral presentations, use of socialized power, use of unilateral power.

NCATE Ends Its Advocacy of Social Justice Dispositional Assessment

I took the Amtrak to Washington to attend a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. The Advisory Committee was reviewing petitions to extend recognition of various accreditation associations such as the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Association, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

Among the accrediting organizations requesting extension was the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE submitted a petition for renewal of recognitioin and expansion of the scope of its recognition so that it could accredit distance learning programs.

Last spring (2005) there was a controversy at Brooklyn College concerning NCATE's approach to dispositional assessment concerning a student named Goldwyn and his professor, Priyar Parmar. In addition, Steven Head of San Jose State has filed suit at San Jose State University concerning SJSU's treatment of his candidacy in its teacher education program because of NCATE's and SJSU's approach to dispositional assessment.

At the Advisory Board meeting Arthur Wise, head of NCATE, indicated that NCATE has dropped social justice from its accrediting criteria. Naturally, Steve Balch, head of NAS, Anne Neal, head of ACTA and Greg Lukianoff, head of FIRE as well as myself were delighted.

In my remarks to the committee I described Steven Head's case and the fact that he said that all conservatives had been driven out of SJSU's teacher ed program. I indicated that NCATE's entire approach to using dispositions is inappropriate because the dispositions that they use have not been validated and that they sent me on a wild goose chase when I asked for evidence that their approach had been validated. Dispositions are too easily used as pretexts for politically motivated retaliation to be used in assessing students unless there are objective instruments and measures. I also said that NCATE has overseen the decline of American education, that students with median SAT scores cannot do basic math or write because of teaching approaches that NCATE advocates and that NCATE is the nexus of educational decline, that they are a bunch of losers and should be declined accreditation recognition altogether.

Quote of the Day

From Bruce R. Hopkins, The Law of Tax Exempt Organizations (NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2003), p.192.

"'The exposition of propositions the correctness of which is readily demonstrable is doubtless educational. As the truth of the view asserted becomes less and less demonstrable, however, 'instruction' or 'education' must, we think, require more than mere assertion and repetition.' (National Alliance v. United States, 710 F.2d 868 (DC Cir. 1983)) ...Thus, the federal tax law does not contain a threshold, generic definition of the term educational, but rests on the concept that subjects spoken or written about must be objectively developed or founded...Inherent in the concept of educational is the principle that an organization is not educational in nature where it zealously propagates particular ideas or doctrines without presentation of them in any reasonably objective or balanced manner. The point is reflected in the income tax regulations that define the term educational, where it is stated 'An organization may be educational even though it advocates a particular position or viewpoint so long as it presents a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the pertinent facts as to permit an individual or the public to form an independent opinion or conclusion. On the other hand, an organization is not educational if its principal function is the mere presentation of unsupported opinion.'"

Has Higher Education Overstepped Section 501(c)(3)?

An editorial in the NY Sun concerning anti-Semitic rants published as putatitive research by professors of leading research universities ("Harvard, Chicago and the Lobby", March 17-19) and an article in today's Sun that says that David Duke has been praising research about the "Jewish lobby" at Harvard indirectly raises a question that has beome increasingly salient. Universities like Harvard and Chicago receive a tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The 501(c)(3) deduction is available to educational institutions but is not available to organizations that engage in political advocacy. Hence, there is a question as to whether Professors Walt's and Mearsheimr's work amounts to propaganda and so crosses the line of using universities' assets for political purposes.

The question of propaganda's inclusion in section 501(c)(3)'s definition of education has not received significant attention from the IRS in recent years, which is unfortunate because universities have been inceasingly distracted from their tax-exempt educational purposes.

In several cases in the early 1980s, such as National Alliance v. United States, the federal courts vacated the IRS's previous requirement of an organization's offering " a full and fair exposition" the facts as too vague, but the IRS has not taken steps to provide clearer guidance as to how much lobbying and ideology in an educational institution are too much. This is unfortunate as universities have increasingly become little more than crackpot advocacy organizations for the extreme left.

Required Student Lobbying and Tax Exempt Status of Universities

I have started reading about the impact of faculty telling students to write letters on behalf of candidates on the tax exempt status of the universities in which the professors teach. As I'm reading through a law book on section 501 c 3 it turns out that there have been revenue rulings on the subject of faculty telling students to campaign on behalf of a candidate. In Revenue Ruling 72-512 and 72-513 the IRS has held that a university is NOT participating in a political campaign by providing a political science course that requires the students' participation in political campaigns OF THEIR (the students') CHOICE nor by provision of faculty advisors and facilities for a campus newspaper that publishes the STUDENTS' editorial opinions on political matters. That contrasts with recent reports where the professor requires a given viewpoint. Also, an exempt broadcasting station that provides EQUAL air time to all electoral candidates in compliance with the Federal Communications Act does not violate the prescription against partisan political activities. (Bruce R. Hopkins, Tax Exempt Law of Organizations New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1983).

I am curious as to whether there have been subsequent revenue rulings about the kind of lobbying that has been reported in recent years (the book I have was published in '83). For example, there have been reports of professors requiring that students write letters on behalf of Kerry and of requiring that students take a required position regarding a law or proposed legislation.

ABOR Bill Referred to Higher Ed Committee in Albany

When Phil Orenstein and I met with aides to several state senators last summer I did not expect to see an actual bill proposed in the State Senate this legislative session. The following bill, S. 6336, has been proposed by Senators DeFRANCISCO, GOLDEN, JOHNSON, LARKIN, MALTESE, MEIER, MORAHAN, PADAVAN, TRUNZO, and WINNER. It is an important step for academic freedom in New York and in the nation. If the New York State Senate can propose ABOR, the rest of the country definitely can pass it.

MEIER, MORAHAN, PADAVAN, TRUNZO -- read twice and ordered
printed, and
when printed to be committed to the Committee on Higher Education

AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to creating an
bill of rights

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and
bly, do enact as follows:

1 Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section
2 to read as follows:
3 § 224-b. Academic bill of rights. 1. A student enrolled in an
4 tion of higher education has the right to expect:
5 a. A learning environment in which the student has access to a
6 range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects
7 student studies in which, in the humanities, the social sciences
and the
8 arts, the fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly
9 and perspectives has a significant institutional purpose;
10 b. To be graded solely on the basis of the student's reasoned
11 and appropriate knowledge of the subjects the student studies and
to not
12 be discriminated against on the basis of the student's
political or
13 religious beliefs;
14 c. That the student's academic freedom and the quality of
15 will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently
16 controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that
has no
17 relation to the subject of study and that serves no legitimate
18 ical purpose;
19 d. That the freedom of speech, freedom of expression,
freedom of
20 assembly and freedom of conscience of students and student
21 are not infringed upon by administrators, student government
22 tions or institutional policies, rules or procedures; and
23 e. That the student's academic institution distributes student
24 funds on a viewpoint-neutral basis and maintains a posture of
25 with respect to substantive political and religious
26 differences and opinions.

EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in
[ ] is old law to be omitted.


S. 6336 2

1 2. A faculty member or instructor at an institution of higher
2 tion has the right to expect:
3 a. Academic freedom in the classroom in discussing subjects
4 making the students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other
5 that of the faculty member or instructor and encouraging
6 honesty, civil debate and the critical analysis of ideas in the
7 of knowledge and truth;
8 b. To be hired, fired, promoted, denied promotion, granted
tenure or
9 denied tenure on the basis of competence and appropriate
knowledge in
10 the field of expertise of the faculty member or instructor and
not on
11 the basis of political or religious beliefs; and
12 c. To not be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees
on the
13 basis of political or religious beliefs.
14 3. An institution of higher education shall fully inform
15 faculty and instructors of the rights under this section and
of the
16 institution's grievance procedures for violations of academic
freedom by
17 notices prominently displayed in course catalogs or student
18 and on the institutional publicly accessible site on the Internet.
19 4. The governing board of an institution of higher education
20 develop institutional guidelines and policies to protect the
21 freedom and the rights of students and faculty under this
section and
22 shall adopt a grievance procedure by which a student or faculty
23 may seek redress of grievance for an alleged violation of a right
24 fied in this section. A governing board under this subdivision
25 publicize the grievance procedure developed pursuant to this
26 to the students and faculty on every campus that is under the
27 and direction of the governing board.
28 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1



An act to amend the education law, in relation to creating an academic
bill of rights

To ensure that students enrolled in institutions of higher education
receive exposure to a wide range of scholarly viewpoints, and to recog-
nize the academic rights of faculty members.

Section 224-b (1) -- Outlines what a student enrolled at a higher educa-
tional institution can expect. Included in this portion of the bill are
provisions stating that a student can expect to be graded solely on the
basis of his/her work, student fee money should be distributed in a fair
manner, and a student's freedom of conscience shall not be infringed
upon by administrators or student government organizations.

Section 224-b (2) -- Outlines what a faculty member has a right to
expect. Included in this portion is a provision requiring that faculty
be hired, fired, or promoted on the merits of their work and not on
their political or religious beliefs.

Section 224-b (3) -- Higher education institutions are required to
inform students of their rights and of the institution's grievance
procedures for violations of academic freedom.

Section 224-b (4) -- The governing board of a higher education institu-
tion is required to develop and publicize a grievance procedure for
violations of academic freedom.

Every institution of higher learning has a duty to promote intellectual
diversity on campus. Too often, students find many college classes
biased or one-sided. The ideas of all students and faculty members
should be treated with respect, and all ideas deserve to be represented
on campus.

Professors and administrators have an obligation to make students aware
of a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives. They are not hired to
teach only students who share their political or philosophical views,
and professors should never force their own views upon their students.
The classroom is not and should never be a soapbox for a professor to
promote his or her point of view.

The Academic Bill of Rights has been introduced as legislation in a
number of state legislatures, and a few states have already adopted a
form of the Academic Bill of Rights. In one of the most recent examples,
the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives -- in July 2005 --
passed a resolution supporting the principles of the Academic Bill of
New bill.



Interview Aired on WCBS All News Radio 880 in NYC

Ginny Kosola: Experts Explain the Pension Issue
NY State Law Requires New Tiers for any Changes

Dec 19, 2005 1:49 pm US/Eastern
NEW YORK (WCBS) A two-tier pension system like the one being sought by the MTA in talks with the TWU is not unusual, says human resources expert Mitchell Langbert, an associate business professor at Brooklyn college.

The pension proposal, perceived as the main sticking-point in the talks between the union and MTA is actually not legally negotiable, says Edmund McMahon, director of The Manhattan Institute think tank.

Langbert says multiple-tiered pension plans have existed in New York state for many years, "I myself as a professor at Brooklyn college, part of the City University of New York, am part of a multi-tiered pension plan." Langbert says his benefits are not as generous as those of colleagues who have worked for the city longer.

The reason there are multi-tiered systems, and the MTA is seeking the two-tiered plan, is New York State's constitutional prohibition on reducing accrued benefits for existing workers. For the government to save money, it can only offer different benefits for new hires.

"What's unusual about this is that, in fact, pension benefits are not dictated by labor contracts in New York City and New York State government. Penison benefits are actually set by state law," says McMahon.

The state constitution absolutely guarantees that there can't be any reduction in a pension benefit for an employee who is on the payroll, says McMahon. The union is actually correct in making its argument to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that pensions actually are not a bargaining issue. PERB, he explains, acts as a mediating panel between the government and unions.

"Although the Taylor Law clearly outlaws negotiations, formally, around the issue of pension benefits, unions have been happy in the past to negotiate side benefits and side deals for changes in the laws to increase their pensions." But, McMahon explains, those side agreements must then be approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor.

As for where he stands on the pension issue for new MTA hires, McMahon believes the best solution would be to pay the workers more now, and give them a "defined contribution pension," such as a 401-K. "Very few of the people who ride subways and buses and pay the taxes to subsidize them can dream of retiring at age 55 with a full pension," he notes.

Ginny Kosola

NCATE and the Decline of Teacher Education

Last May 31 the New York Sun carried Jacob Gershman’s story about a Brooklyn College student named Goldwyn who was penalized for disagreeing with his professor about her views on diversity. Professor Parmar had asked other professors to evaluate the student’s “dispositions”, yet did not have a validated instrument to measure any such psychological trait. The Sun article quoted Professor KC Johnson, who was subsequently attacked by a group of education professors, backed by the faculty union, who demanded that the college suppress Professor Johnson’s extramural speech.

The Sun story alleged that Professor Parmar believes that “white people are oppressors.” Working with Steve Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), I contacted Arthur Wise, president of NCATE. Dr. Wise’s associate. Jane Leibbrand, NCATE’s vice president of communications, responded to my inquiries. My purpose in contacting NCATE was to inquire as to the basis of NCATE’s claim that education programs are capable of assessing and ought to assess dispositions in general and social justice in particular. Such a claim would depend on NCATE’s having evidence that such dispositions are correlated with teacher performance. Yet it is unlikely that such evidence is available for several reasons. First, there would need to be a meaningful definition of “social justice.” Second, if there were such a definition, its adoption by education schools would violate the First Amendment to the Constitution because such a definition would constitute a test of political ideology, which the Supreme Court held to be unconstitutional in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943. The fact that NCATE argues that many states have adopted dispositional assessment and have included "social justice" in their requirements for teacher education suggests how suppressive the education establishment has become.

In response to my e-mail, copied below, Ms. Leibbrand claims that the assessment of dispositions, to include “social justice” dispositions, is supported by Darling-Hammond and Bransford’s book Preparing Teachers for a Changing World. Ms. Leibbrand states:

You will find dispositions discussed as part of a framework for teacher learning, and part of a learning community, in the volume, along with research citations.

She points out that the Darling-Hammond and Branford book is 600 pages long and kindly points out that in “lay terms”:

one must have knowledge of subject matter, but an ability to relate to children, individually and collectively, is also a key to good teaching, as I'm sure you agree.”

She also points out that 30-odd states that have developed model state licensing standards based on NCATE’s INTASC standards and that dispositions are a part of the standards.

I acquired the Darling-Hammond and Branford book and read it. I did not find any evidence of validation coefficients of any disposition. Nor do Darling-Hammond and Branford define the concept of dispositions. Nor did I find any discussion of a “social justice” disposition. Social science in general and psychology in particular are incompetent to meaningfully define or measure social justice disposition for obvious reasons.

I responded to Ms. Leibbrand with this information, but she did not respond to my further inquiry. For example, she did not respond with a page number on which Darling-Hammond and Branford provide validation of social justice orientation. Disappointed at NCATE's inability to support its views, I contacted Professor Darling-Hammond with a direct inquiry. Professor Darling-Hammond, who is associated with NCATE, also did not respond to my inquiry.

Scholars such as Richard Boyatzis and consultants such as the Hay-McBer group have worked on developing measures of managerial competencies, but the measures that they have developed involved a lengthy validation process. Asking individual academic institutions to develop such measures is absurd. Moreover, even the Hay-McBer measures are better used for coaching than for assessment (as in hiring or promotional evaluation as they were used with Student Goldwyn) because they can be gamed and hence are likely useless for such purposes.

One question is how incompetence of the magnitude reflected by NCATE's standards, the state education departments, the state superintendants of education and the teachers' unions, all of which are associated with NCATE, has insinuated itself into the heart of the educational establishment. Another question is what the public can do about it.

The first question is largely answered in Diane Ravitch's books on the history of education reform. It would seem that the public education system has deteriorated to the point where it is beyond repair.

The solution would seem to be to involve decentralization of education and the junking of the public school systems. The current state-dominated system has failed. Vouchers, charter schools and home schooling would seem to be reasonable alternatives.

My and Ms. Leibbrand’s e-mails follow.

Arthur Wise, President
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
2010 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Dear President Wise:

Sent Via E-mail and Hard Copy

I am an associate professor in the economics department of Brooklyn College and a member of the National Association of Scholars. I would like to bring to your attention an article that appeared in the New York Sun on May 31, 2005 concerning Brooklyn College's school of education and Professor Parmar's conflict with several students. In the course of the article The Sun mentions that your organization, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education ("NCATE" or "the council") has required that the school of education adopt specific standards concerning dispositional assessment of students and, in addition, assessment of social justice orientation. I quote the Sun directly:

In 2000 the council introduced new standards for accrediting education schools. Those standards incorporated the concept of dispositions, which the agency maintains ought to be measured...

To drive home the notion that education schools ought to evaluate teacher candidates on such parameters as attitude toward social justice, the council issued a revision of its accrediting policies in 2002 in a Board of Examiners Update. It encouraged schools to tailor their assessments of dispositions to the schools' guiding principles, which are known in the field as "conceptual frameworks." The council's policies say that if an education school "has described its vision for teacher preparation as 'Teachers as agents of change' and has indicated that a commitment to social justice is one disposition it expects of teachers who can become agents of change, then it is expected that unit assessments include some measure of a candidate's commitment to social justice."
On behalf of the National Association of Scholars, I would like to make several requests and inquiries, as follows:

1. May I please have a copy of the 2000 standards and the 2002 Board of Examiners update to which the Sun article refers?
2. May I have a copy of any available evidence (or citations of published research upon which you have relied) that validate (1)college or teacher assessment of student dispositions in general; (2) college or teacher assessment of "social justice orientation"; (3) any approach whatsoever to assessment of "social justice orientation" or teacher measurement of "student disposition" and which you have relied on in setting this standard?
3. May I have a citation of any other published rationale upon which you have relied in setting the standard and update?
4. May I have a copy of any publicly available evidence of due diligence on NCATE's part in setting this standard, such as minutes of meetings, internal memoranda, statistical studies or citations of published research upon which the standards were set?
5. May I have a list of institutions to whom such standards apply?
I thank you in advance for your assistance. My mailing address and phone number follow:

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Dr. Langbert:

As I mentioned in my previous email, dispositions were incorporated into state teacher preparation standards through INTASC in the early 1990s. In lay terms, one must have knowledge of subject matter, but an ability to relate to children, individually and collectively, is also a key to good teaching, as I'm sure you agree. Dispositions gets at this aspect of teaching, by looking at things such as fairness---does the teacher call on a few students repeatedly, and never call on other students? Does the teacher interact respectfully with the students, or yell at them? Etc. etc. I'm sure you would agree that these are important facets of the job that should be taken into account.

The nation's top scholars have developed scholarly consensus on the foundational knowledge that teachers should have before teaching autonomously. They have set forth their conceptions in a volume entitled, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World. It is available at . It is a 600 page volume with an extensive bibliography. The Preface to the volume states that the volume "outlines core concepts and strategies that should inform initial teacher focuses on content considered essential based on strong professional consensus and on research evidence." You will find dispositions discussed as part of a framework for teacher learning, and part of a learning community, in the volume, along with research citations. There is an emerging volume of research on dispositions, which are tied to teacher skills with children. You can scan ERIC or google. The field considered all of this in including dispositio! ns in the standards.

Jane Leibbrand
Vice President for Communications

Dr. Langbert:

Here is relevant information for you on NCATE's treatment of dispositions.

1. Statement on NCATE and Dispositions

2. Copy of INTASC Standards with dispositions:

Here is information from INTASC, the group of 34 states that have developed model state licensing standards. Dispositions are a part of the standards.

INTASC homepage that explains the model state licensing standards

See Core Standards link. The dispositions start on about p. 14, but read through the beginning to get an idea of what it is talking about.

2. Copy of the 2000 Standards is at under the section called 'unit standards.'

3. Copy of the Fall 2002 BOE Update at

4. List of NCATE accredited institutions:

Jane Leibbrand
Vice President for Communications
2010 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036
tel. 202/466-7496
fax: 202/296-6620

Trade, Wal-Mart and New York Democrats’ Attack on the Poor

The Economist 's lead story this week on globalization ("Tired of Globalization: But in Need of Much More of it"—Nov. 5) mentions Senator Schumer’s proposal to impose a 39% tariff on Chinese imports. As well, the New York City Council, the politburo of the People’s Republic of New York City, has imposed a law imposing health insurance costs on large supermarkets in order to capriciously discriminate against Wal Mart. At the same time, there were anti-trade demonstrations in Argentina concerning the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and by implication the latest round of tariff-reduction talks that especially affect agriculture.

Schumer is a Harvard grad and, hopefully was exposed to David Ricardo’s concept of comparative advantage in college (although along with the Harvard faculty’s belief that there are no differences between men and women, who knows what laws of economics they have concocted).

These latest assaults on economic freedom do what all restraints on economic freedom ultimately do—assault the poor. Schumer’s bill would forestall economic progress in China, in the long term reducing wage gains and diminishing learning of Chinese workers and future entrepreneurs. The ban on Wal-Mart means that those New Yorkers with low incomes must pay inflated prices for their groceries. The Doha round of trade talks would directly help the farmers of Brazil, Africa and other third world countries and low-wage people in America, while the agricultural tariffs that the demonstators seem to support help domestic producers such as Del Monte at consumers' expense.

I brought these issues up in my class at Brooklyn College, and was interested in how few students (a) had heard of the theory of comparative advantage, (b) had thought about the impact of trade on economic outcomes and freedom and (c) had heard of or were critical of the ban on Wal Mart and protectionism. One student argued that Asians who work in factories would be better off starving to death than working in American factories overseas because of poor factory conditions. This student did not say whether she wished her ancestors had so starved to death in the 19th century. Another student said that it is good that poor people in New York pay higher prices to supermarkets because they would just fritter away the money anyway. I questioned the student whether this wasn't the same economic philosophy that governs North Korea, and why wouldn't he want to live there.

It seems to me that the left’s use of universities and schools to ideologically brainwash students to believe in their failed and erroneous economic theories has worked. It will be a long path to counteract the economic ignorance that the schools and universities have wrought on the American public, and that shows itself in the illiterate discussions of trade among elected officials like New York's Senator Schumer and New York City's politburo, and among left wing demonstrators.

Review of Jane Jacobs' Dark Age Ahead

New York: Random House, 2004, 241 pp., $23.95 hardbound

Jane Jacobs’s book Dark Age Ahead, published last year, is a major disappointment. In her most famous book, Life and Death of Great American Cities, Jacobs’s arguments are close to those of the Austrians and other free marketeers. She argues that communities need to evolve spontaneously, and that large scale planning schemes such as the urban renewal of the 1950s had been a failure.

Dark Age Ahead shows that without an underlying theoretical grasp, even the most brilliant authors with the most brilliant insights, such as those evinced in Life and Death of Great American Cities, are likely to falter. In Dark Age Ahead Jacobs claims that Western civilization is teetering on a Dark Age because our culture cannot cope with technological change and interest group pressure on public policy. Ms. Jacobs defines a Dark Age to be a state of cultural amnesia, a “horrible ordeal” where a previous way of life slides into “an abyss of forgetfulness” (pp.6-7). She claims that five trends interactively evidence an incipient Dark Age. These include: (i) The decline of the suburban family and community, (ii) credentialing in higher education, (iii) second-rate science in fields like traffic engineering, (iv) incompetently managed public finance systems and (v) the decline of ethics in the accounting profession.

With respect to the decline of the family and community, Ms. Jacobs points out that the spirit of community characteristic of the urban neighborhoods of the 1950s is missing in twenty-first century suburban communities. Her point that modern urban planning has resulted in the deterioration of community spirit and family relationships is similar to arguments in Death and Life of Great American Cities.

In the second chapter, Ms. Jacobs argues that credentialing, or an emphasis on obtaining a degree regardless of the quality of the underlying education, has become the primary business of North American universities. Complaints about the rituals of higher education date back at least to Thorstein Veblen’s (1993) Higher Learning in America, and in light of this tradition Ms. Jacobs does a credible job of depicting higher education’s transformation into an employment signal. In her view credentialing has served the narrow economic interests of universities as well as employers.

With respect to second-rate science, Ms. Jacobs criticizes the lack of scientific imagination of traffic engineers, public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control, and Canadian economists.

In a chapter entitled “Dumbed-Down Taxes” Ms. Jacobs discusses the fourth trend, incompetently managed public finance systems. Ms. Jacobs argues that government works best when it is responsible to the people it serves, and that this objective is best satisfied when government finances are transparent. Government accounting and budgeting processes often serve to cloak what “provincial kleptocracies” (p.110) do with federal grants. Not enough resources are available for social programs, and there is an absence of fiscal accountability because government accounting information is obscure. Her concerns about fiscal responsibility and budgetary equity in Canadian provinces are similar to issues that face state governments in the U.S.

Ms. Jacobs’s observations with respect to the fifth trend, the decline in professional ethics, notably with respect to the accounting profession, reflects the recent series of corporate scandals involving Adelphia, Enron, Lucent, Tyco, Worldcom and other large firms. This chapter is weak because it confuses issues involving government accounting with the corporate scandals, and fails to address either government accounting or the scandals coherently. Harvard professor Robert N. Anthony (Anthony and Young, 1993) has spent a substantial part of his notable career arguing that government and private sector accounting should not be treated all that differently, and conservative economists such as Mancur Olson (1983) have developed theories that explain the lack of transparency of public sector accounting in terms of special interest group pressure. But problems with government accounting are at most obliquely related to the private sector accounting issues that have been relevant to Enron et al.

An underlying problem with Dark Age Ahead is that Ms. Jacobs’s definition of Dark Age is vacuous. Ms. Jacobs’s definition of a Dark Age as cultural forgetting implies that 18th century American culture is in a Dark Age of cultural forgetting because the techniques of slave driving, horse-drawn carriage driving, and blood letting as a medical cure have been forgotten. Rather, some form of compulsion, elimination of free choice, or erosion of transportation or communication systems would seem to be necessary for a Dark Age.

Social scientists sometimes accuse economists of methodological imperialism when the economists extend their neoclassical paradigm to adjacent fields. In this book Jacobs seems almost imperialistic in discussing education, labor economics, general science and political science.

I had philosophical quibbles with much of the book. For instance, Ms. Jacobs’ claims about the Centers for Disease Control study are overdrawn. Rather than suggesting a Dark Age, the incentive structure provided to government researchers likely offers clues as to why their work was of poor quality. The solution might be to redesign the incentive structure, although the special interest group pressures that government employee unions pose may play a role. Perhaps Ms. Jacobs should have included a chapter on the role that public sector unions play with respect to economic decline.

Likewise, in the chapter on government finance, Ms. Jacobs intelligently argues for fiscal accountability in government. But she also condemns “neo-conservative” approaches to “reinventing government” such as requirements that government programs pay for themselves. Of course, the reason voters often have favored such “neo-conservative” reforms is the very lack of accountability and misuse of government monies that she observes in other contexts. Ms. Jacobs seems to argue both that (a) government programs should be encouraged even though (b) government behaves unaccountably.

Ms. Jacobs is a fine writer and imaginative observer, but this book is far from her most important work. Rather than indicating a Dark Age ahead, many of the issues that she adduces could best be resolved by limiting government, a solution that she paradoxically opposes. It is a significant loss to libertarians that Ms. Jacobs lacks the theoretical rigor that would have directed her toward a more consistently free market solution set. Her ideas are garbled and self-contradictory. This book represents a loss to anyone seriously interested in seeing reform of liberalism’s failed institutions.


Anthony, R.N. and Young, D Management Control in Non-profit Organizations Seventh Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin 2003.

Jacobs, J. Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Olson, M. The Rise and Decline of Nations, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983

Veblen, T. The Higher Learning in America, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1993.

Paris on the Hudson

My following Op Ed appeared on page nine of the New York Sun of November 28 and is copied here courtesy of the New York Sun.

November 28, 2005 Edition > Section: Opinion > Printer-Friendly Version
Paris on the Hudson
November 28, 2005
When considering the recent rioting in France, it is more important to remember that the rioters were poor than that they were Muslim - it was a case of economic, and not merely religious, strife. As such the episode should give New Yorkers pause. Just as the world witnessed a collision of two Frances, one of mostly ethnically French "insiders" and another of more diverse "outsiders," New York has increasingly become a city divided along class lines, with the lower stratum dominated by African Americans, Hispanics, and a perennially emigrating white working class. Is the lack of opportunity for the poor of both Paris and New York a coincidence?
Arguably not. Rather, it is in both cities a function of dirigisme, government intervention and control in the name of social cohesion and welfare. However wonderful it might sound in theory, in practice it is all too clear that "social cohesion" and "welfare" ends up excluding the poor.
In the post-World War II era, government played a large role in France's economic development. The emphasis was on creating a technocratic elite based on merit and a high degree of government influence on the economy. In the early 1980s, the socialist prime minister, Francois Mitterand, first aimed to intensify dirigisme, but because of the problems that nationalization created he reversed course and liberalized the economy. However, the liberalization did not do away with labor regulation. A 35-hour week was enforced and restrictions on firing that make hiring expensive were retained.
Like France, New York has a history of dirigisme. In the 1920s, Al Smith pushed for reforms that later became the basis for the New Deal. In reducing the influence of the patronage system of Tammany Hall, Fiorello La Guardia encouraged a meritocratic approach to hiring. The state's intervention in the economy intensified in the 1940s and 1950s with urban renewal and public housing laws that rebuilt the city's infrastructure. Due to this interventionist history, New York's economic philosophy today is closer to that of Paris than to that of Phoenix. New York's taxes are among the highest in the United States. Its rent control laws raise the rents for newcomers including the young and recent immigrants, creating homelessness. Just as French elites fear American culture, so the New York City Council passed a health insurance regulation in October targeting Wal-Mart and other big-box stores, cultural icons that are popular almost everywhere else in the country.
Regulation imposes costs on employers that make them less likely to hire. At 10%, French unemployment is higher than New York's, and among France's Islamic and African minorities unemployment levels are higher still. Tens of thousands of young people in France have given up looking for a job, and the unemployment rate for those under 25 is 25%.In New York, the unemployment rate is about 5.7% but, as in France, among teens it is 23% and for African Americans it is 10.6%. According to the Community Service Society, in New York in 2004 the black employment rate was 60.7% while for whites it was 76.6%.
In both Paris and New York, heavy regulation makes jobs scarce for those with the least power. In both cities a veneer of politically correct diversity rhetoric cloaks economic policies that benefit the median citizen such as middle class public employees while squeezing those at the margins, specifically marginal racial minorities.
Perversely, increasing labor costs through regulation creates incentives for employers to be more selective in hiring, which can mean indulging discriminatory preferences. Since regulation makes firing costly, it reduces employers' willingness to take risks on ambitious employees who lack conventional qualifications but may be willing to work longer and harder. For ambitious workers from underprivileged backgrounds, the way around discrimination often is competition through the acquisition of skills, but regulation limits the possibility of their acquiring skills by raising the cost to employers of hiring employees from diverse backgrounds that do not fit employers' stereotypes. Those who gain admission to the most prestigious schools and can afford the tuition, and those whose parents have trained them to be most articulate and socially adept, have an enhanced advantage under dirigisme. Those whose ability is harder to discern because it has not been as carefully cultivated and those who are most eager to work hard to succeed despite disadvantages are the ones likely to suffer most from marginalization.
In Paris the 35-hour workweek serves to reinforce the privileges of capital by preventing poor, would-be parvenus from working extra hours to compensate for their poverty. In New York, the state and city saddle employers with high taxes while the schools teach neither basic skills (reading, writing, and math) nor self-discipline. Instead, the students are taught to have self-esteem. The result is that the higher-end firms that can remain in New York are decreasingly likely to hire New Yorkers.
The French regularly denounce racism in the United States. Yet, when it comes to hiring, they are strikingly discriminatory. In New York, the diversity rhetoric is coupled with the eviction of Wal-Mart and the managed decay of the educational system, policies that cripple the poor while subsidizing special labor interests.
In both Paris and New York, large, established firms find it easy to comply with complicated regulations while small entrepreneurial firms find it difficult. Middle- to upper-income consumers don't mind spending more at a department store, while lower-income consumers are in need of the price reduction Wal-Mart offers. Most importantly, those who have not been able to graduate have a greater need for work experience in modest-paying jobs with longer hours and will benefit most from the experience that marginal jobs offer. But such jobs are driven out by dirigisme in Paris and New York.
Perhaps the biggest difference between France and New York is that dirigisme is a policy that influences all of France, while New York's state intervention does not cross the Hudson. Since the days of Horace Greeley, New Yorkers have tended to emigrate westward. In recent decades, the reason has been New York's war against the poor. The working-class youngsters in the French suburbs do not have a larger nation with a free market philosophy to which they can emigrate to escape the assault of dirigisme. As a result, the young French increasingly emigrate to London, much as New Yorkers have increasingly emigrated to Texas, California, and Colorado. Policies that claim to be communitarian are precisely those that are decimating communities in Paris and New York.
Mr. Langbert is an associate professor of business and economics at Brooklyn College.

The Need for Counter-4GW

In 2003, William S. Lind argued that the US invasion of Iraq would face debilitating trouble from insurgency and terrorism, also known as fourth generation warfare, or 4GW. Col. Thomas Hammes also ably discusses this concept in his book The Sling and the Stone. Lind's view of second generation warfare is that it involves use of artillery followed by occupation of troops, or "putting steel on target." Third generation warfare follows the German Blitzkrieg in focusing on the situation and on surprise. Fourth generation war, though, involves fighting non-state opponents. It involves a conflict of belief systems or cultures. In it, "invasion by immigration can be at least as dangerous as invasion by a state army." "At its core lies a universal crisis of legitimacy of the state, and that crisis means many countries will evolve Fourth Generation War on their soil."

Lind and Hammes are implicitly suggesting that just as generations one and two of warfare reflected industrialization, the telegraph and railroad, while the third generation reflected the advent of the automobile, truck and radio, the fourth generation is associated with the mass media and information technology. War becomes increasingly a matter of propaganda, mass information and attitudes rather than mere organized violence or, as Clausewitz defined it (On War, chapter 1) "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will." With a Ph.D. in labor relations, I would term 4GW the triumph of Saul Alinsky. The methods that Alinsky discusses in his book Rules for Radicals are very, very similar to the concepts of 4GW.

The transition from the second to the fourth generation of warfare parallels how management has changed from the days of the Ford assembly line to the days of self-directed teams, computer aided design, flexible management, just-in-time inventory systems and modular organizations. Rather than use artillery and then occupy an opponent's terrain, an entirely different set of issues becomes paramount: integration into the enemy's community; the interpersonal conduct of forces in the community after battle; cultural intelligence; reliance on intelligent special operations operatives; and emphasis on public relations. Lind argues that "(o)ne key to success in 4GW may be 'losing to win.'" Maintenance of state systems, which we failed to do in Iraq is also important, as is the observation that "many different entities, not just governments of states, will wage war."

If Lind, Hammes and other advocates of 4GW are right, it seems to me that the response will not come from the state, which is bound by special interest groups. Rather, it needs to come from private individuals who respond to the terrorists' 4GW with counter-4GW. This would involve standing up to the media and our leaders who are motivated by personal interest in responding to special interest group pressure rather than the national welfare.

The chief source of informaton is of course the media. A second is academia. If insurgents and terrorists have used information to their advantage, then those who wish to respond need to work on exposing the rot in these institutions.

Earlier I watched The New York Times's Thomas Friedman on CBS News. Friedman was being interviewed as an expert on Iraqi policy. He made a few imbecilic points, each of which contradicted the other but had only one theme: attack President Bush. On the one hand, he argued that if the War in Iraq is like World War II, we have too few troops and we shouldn't have low taxes. On the other, he argued that America used to be in the business of exporting hope, but now it is in the business of exporting fear. I mean, which is it? Increase the number of troops, bring them home or what? The fact is that Friedman was unable to articulate a coherent alternative strategy for Iraq because he hasn't given it a moment's thought. Is Friedman the sort of person who should be viewed as an expert to be interviewed on national television? Or is he and the Times a joke?

It has become increasingly urgent for citizens to educate themselves about military strategy through books because the mainstream media, including some of my favorite sources like the Economist have not provided the public with a coherent framework for thinking about current events. Yet, Lind and Hammes provide one that is readily available.

Iraq and the Terror Threat

The New York Times (paid access) writes that a new intelligence report indicates that the terror threat from the Islamic world has grown in response to the Iraqi War, Guantanimo Bay and Abu Graib. The Times also indicates that prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 there was a similar report which argued that the invasion might increase support for political Islam and terrorism.

I don't have the polling facts, but let's say that popular dislike of the United States among Germans increased in Germany after Germany declared war against the US in 1941. Should we not have declared war on Japan in order to avoid the decline in popularity in Germany? The New York Times appears to think so.

The problem with the Times's reporting in this article ("Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat", Mark Mazzetti, September 24, 2006) and in general is its imbalance. In this article Mark Mazzetti examines only Type I but not Type II error. Type I error is the probability that the null hypothesis is true given a finding that it is false. Type II error is the probability that the alternative hypothesis is true, given a finding that the null hypothesis is true.

In plain English, you need to be aware of and control for the effect on terrorism of both invading and not invading. While it may be that the risk of terrorism has increased following the invasion of Iraq because of increased Islamic support for terrorism, it may also be that if we did not invade Iraq the risk of terrorism would have increased even more because terrorists would have perceived us as weaklings. Popular opinion is not the only necessary condition for terrorist threats. The ability and willingness to engage in terrorism are also important. It is entirely possible that these have been deterred while popular dislike for the US has increased. Better a hobbled terrorist infrastructure with hatred of us than a robust terrorist infrastructure with the entire world in love with us.

For example, we did not invade Iraq after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and that was followed by the attack on the Cole in 2000. We did not invade Iraq after the bombing of the Cole in 2000, and that was followed by September 11, 2001. It is clear that the trend toward shorter time intervals between major terrorist attacks that evolved during the Clinton administration has been reversed. It was seven years between the World Trade Center I and the Cole. It was less than two years between the Cole and 9/11, but it has been five years since a major attack against the US outside of Iraq.

The intelligence report may be completely correct, but that might speak well for President Bush. Would the Times have liked to see the German people have more positive feelings about the US in 1945 than in 1935?

Ommission as per Charles Ellison of the University of Denver

Charles Ellison of the Center for African-American Policy of the University of Denver points out three additional major terror strikes during the Clinton years, namely Nairobi Kenya in 1998 and the car bomb explosion at the United States embassy in Dar es Salaam. In addition, there was the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Ellison writes:

>You may have inadvertently omitted the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998 that killed 257 people and the car bomb explosion at the United States embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. These two explosions also resulted in he wounding of 4,000 people. In addition, we shouldn't forget the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

It was the 1998 Kenya bombing that attracted serious international attention to bin Laden for the first time and put him on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.


Charles D. Ellison
Senior Editor/Producer
Center for African American Policy
University of Denver